Monday, December 10, 2012

{collage journal} red + black + cream

An abundance of art supplies is a wonderful thing, but it can also be overwhelming. Sometimes I have so many ideas and choices whirling around in my head that I end up doing nothing! I decided to make it easier for myself by working in a journal with a handpicked selection of supplies and a limited color palette of red, black, and cream. The strategy worked! I happily snipped, pasted, and stitched bits of fabric, paper, and thread into my journal with nary an ink pad or pencil in sight!

This page was inspired by a Citra-Solv transfer that didn't quite work.The sweet little bird image is from The Graphics Fairy. I tossed it in to my pile of scraps, and when I discovered it again, I loved the blurred, worn, wintry feeling of it. I think the bird looks like it's been dusted with snow. Transparent Ice Resin papers from Michael's and a bit of washi tape created a background in a cinch!

Here's a simple page with burlap, a velvet flower, and rolled up tubes of paper stitched on with red burlap string. A tiny staple holds a fluttery bit of red string on the right side.

A vintage receipt, old dictionary paper, and some pretty patterned papers from Jenni Bowlin topped with washi tape and more Ice Resin paper fill this double-page spread. I love the packet of Ice Resin papers I bought, but I'm anxious to make my own! I found a wonderful video tutorial on the product website here.

This is the cover of the journal I'm using for my collages. I purchased it a few months at Barnes and Noble, and I love the nubby fabric cover! I was saving it for a special project, and now it's dedicated to red, black, and cream collages.

The journal is filled with this beautiful, handmade lokta paper. I love the creamy hue and the thick, luscious texture of the pages. I can't wait to work in it again!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

{lovely reads} sibella court

I'm a huge fan of book author and stylist Sibella Court! I first discovered her work and her shop The Society Inc. on one of my favorite TV programs, Man Shops Globe. {I miss that program! But fortunately I have 16 episodes saved on my DVR, and I watch them over and over!} I recently bought Sibella's newest book The Life of a Bowerbird, and it's filled with beautiful images of her collections and other lovely bits and pieces.

I discovered Sibella's book Etcetera: Creating Beautiful Interiors with the Things You Love book on my first visit to an Anthropologie store, so it has a special place in my heart. Anthropologie...need I say more? That store is a visual feast for the eyes, and so is this book!

The third book on my shelf, Nomad: A Global Approach to Interior Style, details Sibella's globe-trotting adventures as she seeks out inspiration all over the world. It's filled with stunning photos of her exotic destinations, and real-life interiors in far-flung corners I only dream of exploring.

You can read all about Sibella in the winter 2013 issue of Where Women Create. I adore this magazine, and I have every issue published stashed on my bookshelf. It's always inspiring, but this issue is particularly excellent! I hope you enjoy these lovely reads as much as I do.  What are some of your favorites?

Monday, November 19, 2012

{handmade books} feather studies

As part of my recent quest to learn how to draw, I discovered that I can sketch out a reasonable facsimile of a feather! I was so excited that I decided to stitch together a little book to capture my drawings and some feathery images to inspire me. I used corrugated cardboard from Gauche Alchemy to make the cover. I could have used cardboard from a box that I peeled apart myself, but they don't call this stuff "Ouchless" Cardboard for nothing! It's much easier to start with a 12 X 12 sheet of this sturdy product, and it's acid free so I don't have to worry about  that aspect. I cut the cardboard to 6 x 12, dry brushed it with some pretty aqua paint and a bit of gesso for a distressed patina. A kraft glassine envelope with the top trimmed off creates a pocket for tucking in tags or sketching papers. A lovely image from The Graphics Fairy {via Mary Green of Greenpaper} completes the front cover. I added the "FEATHER STUDIES" text to the original image in picMonkey, using the Special Elite font.

This 6 x 6 book is a simple 3-hole pamphlet stitch book, and is so easy to make!  I used cream Stonehenge {my new go-to paper for handmade books!} for the inner pages, and created another pocket for the inside cover with a kraft glassine envelope, cut at the top with with vintage pinking shears. vintage pinking shears...I love them! I had a pair of plastic craft scissors with a pinked edge, but they didn't feel quite sturdy enough for some of the heavier weight papers I like to use. I decided to keep my eye out for a pair whenever I went on a antiquing jaunt, and I found this pair almost immediately! Funny how that happens so often when you're looking for a particular item. And they were quite inexpensive!

I decided to print out some pretty feathers from The Graphics Fairy, and cut and paste them into the book for reference. The idea is to learn how to draw and color feathers by recreating these images with my own twist. For individual links to the images shown above, be sure to visit my Feather Studies Pinterest board.

Pens, pencils, markers, paint, watercolors, and more will make their appearance in this little book, so I want to document the  materials I use by recording them on the backs of my drawings. In the pockets of the book, I have several blank sheets of paper to draw on, and I simply use washi tape to  hinge them to the original image I'm recreating.

Here's another feather just waiting to be tipped in to the book. My hope is that when the book is filled, my feathers will be as pretty as the originals!

If you're interested in a tutorial for making a 3-hole pamphlet stitch, I used the same method for this travel journal. I used 4-ply waxed linen thread for the Feather Studies book as opposed to ribbon for the travel journal, but the method is the same. The printable tutorial for this book includes a link to a visual diagram that is so helpful! I hope you've enjoyed the promised tour through my handmade book. I'm ready to tackle the colorful feathers next, and I hope practice will make perfect! Do you have an artful skill you're trying to master? I'd love to hear about in the comments!

Friday, November 16, 2012

{michelle & kimberly's artful adventures} citrasolv magic

Citrasolv is simply magic! For some time, I've been reading about this citrus-scented-cleaner-turned-art-supply on other blogs, and I've been dying to try out this National Geographic experiment, and these image transfer techniquesI"m so glad I did!

Actually, I'm so glad we did. My dear friend Michelle and I have been getting together monthly for some time now to try out new art techniques and this is our latest adventure! Michelle shared her gorgeous Citrasolv pages here, and I tried mine out in our collaborative art journal shown above.

It's incredible to me that these dreamy backgrounds result from liberally dousing pages of National Geographic magazine with Citraolv, smushing the pages together, impatiently waiting a few minutes, and then unfurling them to reveal  images magically transformed into mysterious landscapes, moonscapes, seascapes...whatever your artful eye discerns.

I began my art journal with the idea of birch trees. I love their white, peeling, bark and somewhat disheveled air. As I sorted through my pages, I found the perfect starting point for birches in the image shown above. A few dashes, lines, and whorls created with a Pierre Noire Conte pencil turned these vaguely tree-like emulsions into birches with just a few strokes.

An excerpt from the poem, Birches, by Robert Frost and the word birches superimposed on a photo of birch trees are both image transfers on cream Stonehenge paper. The process is so simple:

  • Print out an image using a laser printer or get one made at a copy shop or your local library. Make sure the image is reversed if it includes text.
  • Place the image face down on the desired surface, saturate a cotton ball with Citrasolv and rub it over the paper until all of the image appears. Wait a few seconds, and then burnish the image with the back of a spoon. You may carefully lift the corner to make certain the ink is transferring.
  • Lift the paper and presto, a beautifully imperfect image appears!

I used the same process for a lovely pink bird image via The Graphics Fairy. The image was printed out on a laser printer, though not reversed because I wanted the image to face to the left when I transferred it.

For the finishing touches I used Golden's Yellow Ochre fluid acrylic paint along with a vintage biscuit cutter and a vintage wooden rubber stamp. Derwent Inktense pencils, Vintage Photo Distress Ink, and a couple of stamps from my stash made the page complete.

I enjoyed our experiment with Citrasolv immensely, but the best part was giggling, chatting, and shrieking with excitement over the result with Michelle! Working on an art project with a friend is so gratifying, and I know I would probably never have gotten around to trying out these methods on my own. If you can collaborate with someone on your next artful adventure, I highly recommend it!

Friday, October 19, 2012

{central library bookbinding workshop}

I had such a good time at the Japanese Stab Binding workshop that I taught at Central Library last night! This is a picture of the lively group of ladies who took the class. They were all so much fun! We used discarded library books to make a journal, so each book is unique. A big thanks to all the students, to Central Library for hosting the workshop, and to Madonna Wagner for inviting me to teach and for all her help!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

{feather studies} sneak peek!

Just dashing in to share a little snapshot of a book I recently made. I'm obsessed with feathers lately, and I love them because they are relatively easy to draw, and so pretty! I'll share the cover, more pages, and the inspiration behind it in a future post. Till then, make happy!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

{creatively made home} e-course

I'm in full on nesting mode these days, organizing, simplifying, purging, and so on. Not a lot of artsy activity happening, but I have big plans once I'm done! I find it so difficult to focus when my surroundings are cluttered, and since I'm a very messy artist...well you do the math. I'm determined to mend my ways because I truly do believe that order and discipline lead to maximum creativity. As an incentive, and a reward, I signed up for the Creatively Made Home e-course that begins October 22nd. Jeanne Oliver, one of the creative forces behind the workshop had this to say about it:

I wanted to create a course that celebrated what really matters in your and your family.
I also wanted to celebrate making life beautiful in the everyday.
I know that so many want to make their homes beautiful but feel overwhelmed and don't know where to they do nothing.
I believe that everyone should be surrounded by beauty in their homes and that shouldn't have to do with how much you spend.
I think sometimes we can get lost and distracted with everything that comes at us each day.
Sometimes things can look so perfect and we as women may feel inadequate.
It is time to exhale and delight in your home.
It is time to open your doors because of what is inside of you...not what is inside your home.
Our desire is that this five week online course will change how you see yourself, your home and your family.

With autumn here, and winter approaching, I know my family and I will be spending lots more time at home, and I want it to be a cozy, relaxing haven that we can all enjoy. Right now, my style is all over the place, and I want to create a cohesive, beautiful environment that allows us to enjoy our creative pursuits and functions well for our lifestyle. I'm looking forward to being inspired by this e-course, and to discovering my own design aesthetic. If you would like more details, you can read all about it here. Or check out the e-course hosts' blogs with these links:
Jeanne Oliver  {Jeanne Oliver Designs}
Tracy Leber  {French Larkspur}
Sara Duckett {Sadie Olive} 
Kimberly Taylor  {Life on Blackberry Farm}
Jennifer Rizzo {Inspired Living}

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

{Chip It! by Sherwin-Williams}

Oh no! While researching milk paint on the Miss Mustard Seed blog I  stumbled across an irresistible paint tool at Sherwin-Williams called Chip It! It allows you to turn any photo into a color palette using their paint colors. This is seriously fun! I immediately uploaded one of my favorite photos from our trip to the Oregon coast last fall. Aren't those colors lovely?
Then I had the bright idea to plug in the Aquamarine + Kraft + Red mood board that I posted about here. I could easily spend hours making these, and I have a feeling I will later on, but enough distraction for now! Check it out for yourself at Sherwin-Williams, but be warned: it's hard to stop!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Quick & Easy Bookbinding Workshop at Central Library

Japanese Stab Binding is one of the easiest, yet most decorative, methods of creating your own journals or sketchbooks. I'm excited to announce that I'll be teaching a Quick & Easy Bookbinding class at Central Library in Evansville, Indiana this Thursday {10/18/2012} at 6 p.m. This FREE workshop is sponsored by the library, and all materials will be provided. Each student will leave the class with a custom journal made from an upcycled book, and the knowledge to create more. Click here to register. Hope to see you there!

Friday, October 5, 2012

{food truck frenzy}

We're hitting the road today bound for Nashville, TN and the Handmade & Bound book arts festival on Saturday from 11 -4! But right now all we can think about are the food trucks roaming the streets of the city, dishing up delicious treats!

Last year we feasted on these scrumptious Korean BBQ beef tacos from The Happy Eating truck. This truck is closed for now, and we will miss them! Hope they will open again soon.

Fortunately, there are plenty of other food trucks making the rounds, including one of our favorites: The Grilled Cheeserie! We had a delicious lunch there last fall, and since they'll be parked at Watkins College for the book festival, we will definitely visit them again! Last time I had the Pimento Mac & Chee {correct spelling!} which may sound strange, but was absolutely divine! The Coffee Truck and Blue Monkey Shaved Ice will also be in attendance, so I'm looking forward to sampling their wares as well.

I found several sites devoted entirely to the culinary delight that is the Nashville food truck scene, so I thought I would share some links in case you are headed that way and in need of sustenance!
Nashville Food Truck Junkie
Nashville Food Trucks
Food Trucks Nashville
Nashville Food Truck Association
Not going to Nashville? Don't fret! Here a few other sites that allow you to plug in various cities and get maps for food truck locations:
Roaming Hunger
Eat Beeps
If you have a favorite food truck in any city, please let us know about it in the comments! I'm also starting a Pinterest board {Food Truck Frenzy} . In the meantime...keep on {food} truckin'!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

{handmade & bound}

Handmade books are my passion, so I can't wait to attend the second annual Handmade & Bound book festival in Nashville, TN!

Last year I taught a workshop at the event, and it was a wonderful experience! 11 students and I created an eclectic journal filled with maps, book pages, and a mix of other found papers.

The event included lots of vendors, demonstrations, food trucks, and more! You can check out the highlights from last year here. I'll be sure to take lots of photos this year and share them too. Until then, make art & be happy!

Monday, October 1, 2012


October is my favorite month, and fall is my favorite season, so I'm very happy that both have arrived! I have lots of new projects in the works, and I can't wait to share them all with you! I'm astonished to note that it's been over a month since my last post, but I discovered a wonderful way to get back on track: Blogtoberfest! You can read all about it at I Saw You Dancing, but here's a little snippet to get your wheels turning:

Blogtoberfest is an annual blogging festival and a wonderful opportunity to:

 * challenge yourself to blog every day for 31 days
* discover kindred blogging spirits
* carve out a tiny slice of time each day to write and to read
* share any creative projects you have on the go
* host a giveaway, if you feel inclined to spread the love

A creative prompt will be provided each day, and for day one it's Set an Intention. What is it that I hope to gain from participating?  These are my 3 main goals:

*Create a habit of blogging on a regular basis.

*Connect with other bloggers, and discover new ideas and inspiration.

*Share the new projects I'm working on, and have an incentive to move forward with them.

If you want to join in the fun, just add your link here. I can't wait to see what the month will bring!

Thanks to my sweet friend Michelle for letting me know about this fun event! Be sure to check out her awesome artwork at Pigment of My Imagination

Monday, August 27, 2012

{Inspiration Board} Aquamarine + Kraft + Red

I love the colors of the sea...aqua, jade ,turquoise, emerald, and blue-greens of every hue, shade, tint, or tone.  I love to pair these colors with kraft and a splash of red. This aquamarine mood board is a melange of all my favorite things, or several of them anyway!

I found the "book" and "cake" flashcards at one of my favorite stores, Hodgepodge, in Clarksville, TN. Kimberly Santiago, the author of Collage Playground, has a little nook there called Creative Corner. She stocks it with parcels of vintage ephemera, art supplies, project kits, and bits and pieces of all kinds. It's tiny, but packed with artful goodness!

I snagged a few of these survey maps for collage and bookbinding!
So many elements of this inspiration board have special meaning for me. The FRAGILE box and the labels belonged to my great-grandparents. I made the map garland from a tattered antique store find, and the board itself is the handwork of my sweet husband!
I found the rusty key at Candlelight Antiques in Elkmont, AL and the little packet of Oregon Coast photos at a tiny store in southern Indiana whose name escapes me! I loved the rusty patina of the old key, and the "50" tag serves to remind me of a goal I want to reach before I enter that decade of my life. I am completely smitten with the Oregon coast, so these little photos are a lovely reminder of the blissful time my family spent on that gorgeous shore last fall.
Maps, vintage sheet music, collaged tags, vintage sewing pattern paper, vintage cabinet card frames, book paper, images of shells from an old book, kraft paper, birds, bling, shipping tags, a handwritten note, an old star-shaped cookie cutter, flashcards...I crammed this board full of inspiring, meaningful, and beautiful-to-my-eye goodness! I made this board as a homework assignment for the amazing Pages& Paint online workshop I took earlier this summer, and it's sparked many ideas for my artwork and given me great pleasure. I hope you've enjoyed my little tour of the ideas and objects behind this board as much as I've enjoyed sharing it with you! Make art, be happy!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

{Sketchbook Sunday} Retro Blooms

Cut, paste, scribble, paint: I loved it kindergarten, and I still love it decades later! A quiet Sunday afternoon is the perfect time to play in my sketchbook, and today I was inspired by the retro fabric pictured above. The mod-vintage color palette is so fresh and trendy right now, and I love the bright blues paired with a muted olive green.

This is the sketchbook I've been using for the phenomenal Paint & Pages class I raved about in this post. I've often pondered the difference between a sketchbook and an art journal, and I've concluded that for me a sketchbook is a place to quickly record those fleeting ideas that are so easily lost in the noise of everyday life. I find that my art journals are more about experimenting with those ideas and trying out various media and techniques. I love the freewheeling vibe of scribbling my ideas on paper, using washi tape to stash in inspirational photos, writing down quotes I want to remember, and creating color palettes to try. A sketchbook is portable, requires nothing more than a pencil, and is endlessly versatile. Sketchbooks are magical!

These watercolored blooms may look like the work of a  kindergartener, but I'm ridiculously proud of them! For so long I've lamented the fact that I can't draw, but my sketchbook work in Pages & Paint is changing all that. I felt so genuinely inspired by Sarah's words to our class that "it doesn't have to be perfect"  and so uplifted by the generous, supportive community of my fellow students, that I decided to just go for it and toss the results out there for the world to see! After all, I'm always telling my daughter that she can do anything if she simply tries. I have absolute faith in her, but I need to develop that same belief in myself. Anyway, I'll be sharing a peek into my sketchbook now and then, and I hope I'll just get better and better. If not, I'll have lots of fun along the way, and I hope you'll find something here that inspires you to dive right into one of your dreams! A heartfelt thanks to Sarah Ahearn Bellemare, Michelle Madden Smith, and to all those who joined me on this amazing journey to creative freedom.